Savvy retailers are already finalizing plans to get the most "green" from their email campaigns for Black Friday/Cyber Monday—the official kick off to the holiday season.

But, every year, hundreds of retailers rely on the same strategy: churn and burn through email lists in an attempt to cash in on the subscriber universe over the holidays.

In 2011, the eHoliday Survey found that nearly 85% of retailers sent an email to their customers offering Black Friday deals. That's the start of the holiday sales game, and with billions of dollars in play we've all been guilty of abusing our subscribers—moving from a weekly send to at times more than once daily (you know who you are).

The problem? It works!

But even as sales dollars climb, so do subscriber fatigue, unsubscribes, and complaint rates. Come spring, we lick our wounds and start trying to undo the damage from the holiday email barrages we've sent.

But can we do something to reduce the damage to our lists while adding 15% to our topline holiday revenue? Remarketing can help. You can send fewer emails yet achieve greater impact.

So it make sense to have a plan in place to ensure that your Black Friday/Cyber Monday remarketing campaigns are producing dollars without flooding inboxes. Here are some tips retailers should keep in mind to make sure customers have the most personalized, relevant, and meaningful experience this holiday season.

1. Abandoned carts happen to good retailers (the key is to act on why)

If a visitor left your website because of an issue with payment methods or a promo code issue, or got hung up on shipping rates, sending an abandonment email that puts them back into the experience that made them leave the site in the first place would only frustrate them further.

For example, last year, payment-method abandonment was tracked at around 18% across several industries; in fashion, 30% of visitors who abandoned did so after having tried to use a promo code.

Finding out and addressing why a visitor abandons will play a pivotal role in determining the best way to reengage them, complete the sale, and turn what could be a negative experience with your brand into a great one.

2. Make sure your abandonment programs capture email addresses in real time and based on email click-through

Retailers should differentiate between cart and check-out abandoners, allowing you to tune offer and message accordingly, but I also recommend both a "real time" email address capture (as someone is interacting with the website) as well as email addresses made visible via your email marketing vendor. Why? As much as 60% of your revenue recover opportunities will be missed without both methods deployed!

3. Don't forget about non-carting visitors

Going "up the funnel" and remarketing to non-carting visitors can lead to some amazing success.

During its 2011 Black Friday campaign, Footwear etc. ran a collection of "category" and "brand" based remarketing programs to those who had visited the site without carting any items. That campaign resulted in an open rate that was three times that of the company's normal marketing campaigns. Click-through rates soared to 10 times the regular rate, and conversion rates went up threefold—and the audience was a sizable one!

4. Launch "marketing mop-up" programs

When people engage with your Black Friday marketing efforts, follow up! Just because they didn't add an item to the cart during an initial visit doesn't mean they can't be converted to a sale.

For example, woodworking supply retailer Woodcraft ran a mop-up program for customers who engaged during their cyber-week marketing efforts with a "last chance to save" email that extended the promotion to "VIP" customers. The email garnered a very respectable 20% click-through rate. The program also achieved a conversion rate nearly seven times higher than a secondary test list of cyber week purchasers from the previous year.

5. Identify 'premium' nonpurchasing visitors

Here's something many retailers can end up forgetting: A large volume of your website traffic does come at a cost, so you need to make it count. If you paid (banner ads, Facebook ads, etc.) for a visit that doesn't convert, there is added importance in recovering a substantial number of transactions.

Adjusting the initial timing of a remarketing email, modifying drip cadence, and bolstering message and offer can increase not only recovery rates for "premium abandoners" but also gross return on advertising spend—and, in essence, lift the entire marketing organizations' success metrics.

* * *

The Black Friday/Cyber Monday season will only be as successful as you make it. The easy route ("batch and blast" or "spray and pray" email marketing) will leave an additional 7-15% of holiday dollars on the table.

By respecting your customers' intent and honoring their personal experiences with your brand and website, you can craft a customer-centric approach that can help bolster holiday revenue and brand value, increase margin dollars, and create happy customers who stick with you post-holiday. Combine those results with a 30% increase in email-driven revenue and, well, a little extra effort combined with smarter remarketing will have certainly made your holidays happier!

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image of Angel Morales
Angel Morales is a co-founder and the chief innovation officer of Smarter Remarketer, which allows retailers to understand and monetize the discrete experiences their website visitors are having. Its marketing automation and intelligence engine helps engage customers with timely, relevant messages and offers, driving incremental online revenue lift of 10-20%..